Sato wins Indy500 as Alonso suffersposted in INDY28 | 05 | 2017

    JAPANESE DRIVER TAKUMA SATO — who once drove an F1 car on the Isle of Bute — took victory in a dramatic Indianapolis 500, as the unreliability of the Honda engine cost Andretti team-mate Fernando Alonso the opportunity to win America’s Blue Riband race on his debut. (Exclusive: Dario Franchitti — Alonso can win Indy500)

    The double Formula 1 world champ had looked comfortable throughout the race, leading 27 laps at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, having qualified fifth in his Andretti-prepared McLaren-Honda.

    But just as he was about to mount a final charge from seventh for an historic victory, his car lost power as the Honda engine failed and he was forced to coast to retirement.

    But It was Sato — who narrowly missed out on victory in 2012 when Scot Dario Franchitti won his third Indy500 and who raced for Scot Craig Pollock’s BAR F1 team from 2003-05 — who took an emotional victory after a final 11-lap dash to the flag following a late caution period.

    At the final restart, England’s Max Chilton led from Sato, Ed Jones and Helio Castroneves. Four laps later Castroneves, bidding to win the race for a record-equalling fourth time, went around the outside of Chilton at Turn 3 to take the lead.

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    Sato then followed Castroneves past Chilton on the main straight to run second and closed on the leading Penske driver.

    But the significant move came with only five laps remains when Sato drafted past on the main straight to take a lead he would never lose; the Japanese driver held, on despite Castroneves having a look around the outside of Turn 1 on the penultimate lap, to win by 0.2011seconds and become the first Japanese driver to win the Indy500.

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    "At one stage I lost momentum, went down to like P10," Sato,  who demonstrated his BAR F1 car at the Mount Stuart Motorsport Festival on the Isle of Bute in 2003, said. "I just got down to my job, believed in the car, and in the pitstops. When the time came, I had to give 100% commitment. I knew I could do it.

    "But just, you know, waiting for the moment. The last few laps, they were the moment. I know Helio is always coming on a charge. But he's such a gentleman, such a fair player.

    "I believed in him. We went side-by-side into Turn 1, then it was job done."

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    Earlier in the race, polesitter and former Indy500 winner Scott Dixon miraculously walked away from a horror 200mph crash (above) after he hit the damaged car of Jay Howard.

    The impact sent Dixon’s Gansssi Racing car skyward as he was launched into the air before landing on top of the inside SAFER barrier. The rear section of Dixon’s chassis was destroyed leaving the Kiwi thankfully safe in the cockpit.

    After checks at the medical centre, he was passed ‘fit’.

    Related: Vettel leads home Ferrari 1-2 in Monaco GP

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    Jim McGill

     

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